Becoming an infamous super villain is hard work. Not everyone is cut out to be the next Joker, Dr. Doom, or even Gold Finger. Sometimes you just have to work with what you have. In Book of Villainy you’re not the best villain, but at least you can write a book about all your evil deeds. Be the first one to complete your book to go down in infamy!
Welcome to the City
Each player chooses their villain at the start of the game. You’ll get a player mat, a villain standee, and a gadget card as you begin your journey in the Secret Lair. The gameplay in Book of Villainy takes place on a rondel of 8 different locations around the city. Each location allows you to take a nefarious action or a respectable action. Nefarious actions are usually more beneficial, while the respectable actions keep you from getting in trouble with the local superhero in town.
When moving your villain, you cannot land on the same space as the hero or another villain. Players are working to collect henchmen cards that will give them sets and combinations that they can turn in to write their book. Chapter cards will sit in the center of the rondel until they are claimed by a villain. Each chapter requires a specific number of henchmen that have to be turned in.
Players can “write” chapters of their book at the Shady Bar and Coffee Shop locations. These locations will become hotly contested as players get ready to claim chapters for their book.
The henchmen cards also allow you to take specific actions that are tied to the type of henchmen you collect. Turning in the right cards at the right time will make movement, and even avoiding the hero, easier as you write your book.
Words are Hard
Writing the perfect book is no simple task. Players want to collect chapters but are only able to add them to the left or right side of their row of chapters. Writing chapters in an ascending order will gain you 3 points per chapter. Each chapter has set collection icons that can make your book more valuable at the end of the game.
Just like with any villain, cheating to win is expected. You can plagiarize a chapter of another villain’s book and add it to your book during the game. There are locations on the board that allow you to swap or rearrange your chapters if your book is getting a little messy. The first player who collects 6 chapters for their book brings the game to an end.
Choosing a Life of Villainy
Book of Villainy is such a cool concept from designer Fertessa Allyse because it allows players to act as b-rate villains who are extremely bad at their job. On the game board other players will use the “snitch token” to send the hero to another player’s location. I love this mechanic that has villains snitching on one another throughout the game. Knowing the other players will snitch on you means you may want to pick the respectable action when landing on a location so you stay out of trouble. Having a scapegoat henchman can be really helpful to stay out of trouble with the hero.
The various chapter cards in Book of Villainy really connected with us as a family. Each chapter has silly and ridiculous flavor text that describes an “evil action” that is usually no more than an inconvenience for others. This text is hilarious and had both adults and our kids cracking up. We made a rule that when a player takes the write action, that player is required to read the chapter they just wrote because we enjoyed this text so much.
I like how the henchmen cards serve multiple purposes. You’ll need them to claim chapters for your book, but each henchman has a unique ability. Gadget cards are also invaluable in your ambitions to become a published author. Players each start with a single gadget card that can be used during their turn. An exhausted gadget card can be refreshed at the Secret Lair. Villains can acquire an additional gadget card at the Secret Lair also.
Evil for the Whole Family?
Book of Villainy is going to appeal to an interesting audience. The game is ripe for family gaming. My daughter, who is 13, loved the gameplay and the text on the chapter cards in the game. I was able to play the game with one of our writers, Bob, and he had just as much fun as my daughter did. The artwork has a silly comic book feel and it really works well with the theme.
The mechanic of collecting chapter cards and putting your book together isn’t simple, but it never feels difficult. Each player is working to edge out their opponent and be just a little faster at collecting what they need.
I’m excited about seeing this game come to life after hearing Fertessa’s vision for the game back in the Summer of 2019. Don’t miss out on getting your hands on Book of Villainy!
Head over to the Book of Villainy Kickstarter campaign when it launches June 7, 2021.
A prototype of the game was provided for this coverage. Components and rules covered in this preview are not finalized. Read more about our preview policies at One Board Family.